David Morse uses few words
He comes across as guarded with a bit of machismo. I’m not just talking about the characters he plays. He speaks with the same raspy voice in real life, like during our interview today when we got together to talk about “McCanick,” a gritty crime drama that opened in theaters on Friday.
Morse takes the lead as narcotics detective Eugene “Mack” McCanick. As the movie opens the camera zooms in on an ordinary day in this complicated man’s life. It happens to be Mack’s birthday, and he’s planned a dinner with his estranged son.
Everything changes when Mack finds out that Simon Weeks, a street hustler he put away, is out of prison. It is eerie to see Cory Monteith play drug addict Weeks. The movie is opening eight months after Monteith’s fatal overdose. Seeing his acting chops in this last role demonstrates a film career that could’ve been.
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“McCanick” is directed by Josh C. Waller and the cast includes Ciarán Hinds as Mack’s boss and Mike Vogel as his partner. But the movie belongs to Morse and Monteith.
Dorri Olds: What was your relationship with Cory Monteith like? Did you get to know each other well?
David Morse: Our characters were in very intense scenes together so, yes, we had to spend a lot of time together. Our characters had to show vulnerability.
Did he get to see any of the film?
We had wrapped shooting. He died six months after that. He did get to see what we’d filmed, but not the final cut. What he saw was before the editing.
Were there any signs that he was depressed or on drugs during the making of the movie?
He was very open about being a drug addict, much the same as Philip Seymour Hoffman was. Cory and I talked about things a bit and we spoke about him being sober at that time. So, no, there was nothing to indicate he was in any trouble at all.
Did he seem pleased by what he saw of the film?
Yes, we all were.
Did you feel proud of your acting?
I was proud of everybody’s acting. There’s a lot of good work in it. I don’t know if I can comment about my performance.
Oh c’mon, tell me. When you watched it did you think, ‘Whoa, I did a solid acting job’?
Yeah, I guess I did.
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Me too! I thought you were great.
I feel like we had a good story to work with.
Have you ever gotten nervous going to a new movie set?
Yeah, I suppose. I’m about to start a table read for a new CBS pilot and there will be lots of people there. Nervous might not be the right word.
Uh … maybe it is the right word. [Laughs.]
What’s the show about?
It’s got a working title now. We’re calling it “The Wall Street Project.”
Is it about the crash in 2008?
No, it takes place post the crash and people haven’t learned much since then. They are still up to their old tricks. It’s about money and power and greed.
What was it like working with Lars von Trier on “Dancer in the Dark”?
It was one of my favorite experiences. There have been a lot of stories about what a nightmare it is to work with Lars, but I didn’t have that experience at all. I’ve been with directors who are cruel to actors and their crew. Lars is so far from one of those people. Lars is incredibly sensitive. I said OK to reading the script because I really liked “Breaking the Waves,” but then when I read it I couldn’t see how we could make that into a movie and into a musical, so I said no. Lars wanted me on it and he convinced me that I would be in good hands with him. And I was. He was very helpful. There are a lot of good people in that movie — Catherine Deneuve, Björk, they are all remarkable. It was a great experience.
Have you just wrapped “The Boy”?
We were supposed to have finished filming but now we’re going back to Colombia for more. The movie stars Rainn Wilson, who is really good and Mike Vogel from “McCanick.” I play the father to a boy played by Jared Breeze who is really wonderful. We live in a rundown motel in the Colorado Mountains and the world has passed us by. It’s beautifully shot and tastefully done, but it is a creepy, scary movie about a serial killer.
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Ooh. My favorite. Do you have any weird fan stories?
Yes, I had to hire private investigators for death threats. My character on “St. Elsewhere” had gone through something and it prompted a guy who’d been through something similar to write to me. He said I was the only person in the world who could understand what he’d been through. I was kind, polite, but suggested he could get a lot more help from someone who knew how to handle something that traumatic. That angered him. He thought we were friends and felt betrayed. He threatened my life. That is really scary when you have kids, a wife.
Speaking of your wife, how do you think your marriage has lasted so long? Are you a good husband?
I must be good enough because she’s still with me. [Smiles.]